Status of 18 crew members trapped inside sunken submarine yet uncertain

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submarine_1Mumbai, August 15;Two days after the explosion on the Indian Navy’s Kilo class submarine INS Sindhurakshak at the naval dockyard in Mumbai, the Navy divers are yet to ascertain the status of 18 crew member who were on board at the time of the accident.

“Trapped personnel have not yet been sighted or recovered. The diving efforts are hampered by poor visibility inside the submarine which is filled with water, extremely restricted spaces and displacement of most equipment from their original location,” said the statement issued by the Indian Navy on Thursday afternoon.

Following several blasts inside the submarine, it caught fire at midnight on Wednesday. Though the fire was doused in the next three hours, the submarine sank with 18 crew members on board. “While we can hope for the best, we have to be prepared for the worst,” Admiral D K Joshi, Chief of Naval Staff, had said on Wednesday at a press conference held inside the naval dockyard.

Zero visibility

The Navy divers entered the INS Sindurakshak late on Wednesday evening and efforts are still on, round the clock, to ascertain the status of those trapped inside the submarine. Leakage of oil and turbid water have reduced the visibility to almost zero, which is delaying the rescue operation.

“The heat of the explosion has melted parts of the internal hull deforming the submarine hatches and preventing access to compartments,” said the statement, assuring that diving and salvage operations are continuing round the clock.

The Navy is using heavy duty pumps to flush out water from the submarine. There has been large-scale ingress of sea water into the submarine due to the explosion. The submarine will become lighter once the water is pumped out of it, which will help it to surface.

Meanwhile, the families of the 18 crew members – three officers and 15 sailors – have reached Mumbai. All the families have been kept inside the naval dockyard. +-

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